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Under the tape


Maria Curtis helps PRHS athletes perform their best

The small, tiled room in the back of the school is cluttered with students. There are some waiting in line to sign in — writing down their name, sport, and injury. Athletes sit atop tables awaiting tape, while others lie down with heating pads or Game Ready, a type of hot and cold compression therapy. Some can be found doing strengthening exercises with resistance bands or exercises like a “five-star pickup,” an ankle strengthening exercise. Others use foam rollers to help tight muscles.

In the midst of all this chaos is athletic trainer Maria Curtis.

“Mrs. Maria has been a huge help to not only me but the whole Bearcat Athletics community… We all as athletes are very fortunate to have a trainer like Mrs. Maria,” sophomore Jacob Lambeth said.

Curtis treats over 50 athletes per day, making for a busy work schedule. She has been at PRHS since 2017

Curtis treats injuries from every sport offered at Paso High, from golf to football. Injuries range from things as minor as muscle strains to more serious ailments, like fractures. The ones she sees most often, however, are sprains and muscle strains. Along with this, she treats an increased number of head injuries due to coach and athlete education on concussions.

“Just because of education and awareness we have seen an increase in head injuries. Not because there is an increase, but because now coaches are educated and student-athletes are educated on signs and symptoms,” Curtis said.

On average, Curtis treats around 50 athletes before 4:00 PM. After 4:00 PM, she continues to help athletes as they return from practice, whether it be icing a previous injury, doing exercises, or treating new injuries from practice. The athletic training room stays open until almost the end of the last practice, at 9:00 PM.

Curtis recognizes the importance of being at school the amount of time necessary in order to do her job correctly, and works to balance her free time with her busy work schedule. Her mornings are usually spent running errands and getting things done at home, while she spends her weekends relaxing and staying in the area with her husband, going to places like Cambria.

Her preference for staying local comes from her recent arrival in the area; Curtis started working for the district in 2017. Before working for the district, she completed her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology-Athletic Training at San Jose State University and received her masters in kinesiology with the focus of skill acquisition and sports psychology from Cal State East Bay. She also took a Board of Certification exam in order to become an athletic trainer, which requires continued education every two years in order to stay up-to-date on current procedures.
Curtis’ decision to go through this education in order to be an athletic trainer started young. She always knew what she wanted to do with her life, and enjoys the “puzzle aspect” of healing athletes.

“I like the puzzle aspect of injuries, where you get an injury and you’re going through all these special tests, the evaluation process, trying to figure out what’s wrong, from there, figuring out what the best method is to get them back on the field,” Curtis said.

Curtis finds joy in this process and the behind-the-scenes aspect of athletic training. She treats students and athletes to the best of her ability and demonstrates an incredible care for not only the athlete, but the person outside of the sport as well.

The athletic training room is equipped with various tapes, treatments, and exercise bands to treat injured athletes.

“The thing about Maria is she’s not just a trainer, she’s also a friend. When I got hurt two months ago, she helped me through it, giving me physical therapy instead of my parents having to pay for it. Just last week, she asked me how I was doing and continued to check up on me; it shows she really cares about the kids,” sophomore Rebekah Premenko said.

In addition to being a dedicated trainer, Curtis is also a mentor to students that plan to follow her career pathway. Students in the health care practicum class, such as senior Julia Nuñez, are able to shadow Curtis at games in order to better learn skills they will use in real life experiences.

“I’ve been shadowing Mrs. Maria for two years now and she’s taught me a lot of things, whether it was dealing with injuries or athletes to helping with college and life problems… She’s very underappreciated and always goes above and beyond for her athletes. She’s impacted my life a lot the past two years with advice for college and helping me with my own injuries. She’s opened my eyes to thinking about becoming an athletic trainer and pursuing it as a career,” Nuñez said.

Curtis shows incredible skill in all aspects of her life, managing to balance home and work life while still giving athletes the best treatment possible. Not only is she adept at healing athletes, she’s kind-hearted and caring for not only the athlete, but the person outside of the sport as well.

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